Developed for the Israeli military forces and battle tested in real-life combat situations by police and military forces around the world, Krav Maga has gained an international reputation as an easy-to-learn yet highly effective form of self-defense.
Today on the podcast, I talk to David Kahn, chief instructor for the U.S. Israeli Krav Maga Association and the author of several books on the topic, including Krav Maga Defense. Today on the show, David and I discuss the origins and history of Krav Maga, its philosophy, its fundamental moves, and how to use Krav Maga in a defensive scenario.
- David’s background and how he got involved with Krav Maga
- The origins of Krav Maga
- The philosophy and guiding principles of Krav Maga
- What is “retzev”?
- The mindset of Krav Maga versus that of other self-defense systems
- How to attack the most vulnerable parts of the body
- How to train for gouging out an eyeball (and other ways to simulate real-life self-defense)
- How to train for unexpected moments when you have to defend yourself
- Open training and closed training and how to prepare for any situation
- Defending yourself against multiple attackers
- Effectively using improvised weapons
- Pre-conflict indicators, and how to de-escalate conflicts before they become violent
- The power of common sense and intuition
- Is there a best self-defense system?
- The benefits of Krav Maga being a fairly modern system versus one that’s been around for hundreds of years
- The best way to get started with Krav Maga
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- AoM’s articles on Krav Maga
- Imi Lichtenfeld
- Turning Everyday Items Into Improvised Weapons
- Haim Gidon
- AoM’s videos on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Developing Your Situational Awareness
- How to Defend Against Multiple Attackers
- How to Deal With Aggressive People
- The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
- Don Draper Judo: Unarmed Self-Defense from the Mad Men Era
- Turning Yourself Into a Human Weapon
- The Legal Implications of Self-Defense
- Israeli Krav Maga Association
If you’re looking to get started with Krav Maga, I highly recommend checking out David’s work. He does a great job explaining the big picture philosophy of the system as well as breaking down specific movements into easy-to-follow instructions. Visit his website at www.masteringkravmaga.com.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
And thanks to Creative Audio Lab in Tulsa, OK for editing our podcast!
Recorded on ClearCast.io.
Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Welcome to another addition of The Art of Manliness podcast. Used by Israeli military forces and battled tested in real life tactical situations by police and military forces around the world. Krav Maga has gained an international reputation as an easy to learn yet highly effective combative in the self defense system.
Today on the podcast I talked to David Kahn, chief instructor of the US Israeli Krav Maga association and the author of several books on Krav Maga, including ‘Krav Maga Defense’. Dave and I discuss the origins and history of Krav Maga, it’s philosophy and fundamental moves and how to use the systems combatives in a difference of scenario. After the show is over, check out the show notes at AOM.IS/KRAVMAGA. All one word. You can find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.
David Kahn welcome to the show.
David Kahn: Hey Brett. Great to be on with you.
Brett McKay: So you are a Krav Maga instructor, I guess the Chief Officer Israeli Krav Maga here in the United States. Before we get into talking about Krav and what exactly it entails, can you tell us about your background? How did you get involved in Krav Maga? I mean, what are the types people you train as a Krav Maga instructor?
David Kahn: Sure. My first experience of a Krav Maga was my first week of law school and the experience floored me, literally. The first American to ever do Krav Maga, Rick Blitstein, I had played ivy league football and I wanted to try some kind of self defense and I wanted to meet a gratification as all people seem to. Rick took a look at me and he thought, “That’d be a good example.” And he took me in what we call caviler which is a risk take down. He ended up with his size eight and a half on my neck in front of all these people. I should have been embarrassed, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and I said, “I gotta do that.”
That’s how I stumbled, literally, on Krav Maga. I didn’t know what it was. I probably even missed pronounced it the first few times I took it but it’s become quite popular and that’s a good thing for the most part. Although, obviously, there’s certain criminals, obviously, trying to get their hands on it as well.
My background, again, I’m a non practicing attorney. I work with technology, I write patents and I love teaching Krav Maga. Been fortunate enough to write five book on it. Matter of fact, the fourth book just won a national book award, as we mentioned, in the category of sports although it’s anything but sporting. It was called ‘Professional Tactics’. That was a real nice award with all the major publishers competing for the title and fortunately we took it. We actually won a similar award, exact same award, back in 2010 with a weapons defense book.
In addition to the books I’ve been able to write, we’ve done a bunch of DVDs, four different sets. Through it all we’ve been contacted by most of the major law enforcement agencies. We’ve trained to date the veritable alphabet of the federal agencies, FBI, DEA, secret service, marshal service, department of corrections, department of justice police, department of defense police, etc, Coast Guard. Then, fortunately all five branches of the United States military including the Coast Guard. We were invited down to Quantico to train with Marine Corp which also then lead to an FBI invitation, train through academy with them, along with DEA. Trained some tier one groups.
It’s really just been a marvelous thing.
Brett McKay: What are the origins of Krav Maga? It’s called Israeli Krav Maga so I’m imagining it originated in Israel but why did this self defense system originate in Israel?
David Kahn: It actually originated in late … Actually early 1940s and late 30s in Slovakia by a man named Imi Lichtenfeld who founded the system. Imi had a background in boxing and western wrestling and judo. His father was a chief inspector for the Slovakian police but it was developed and invented as necessity to protect the Jewish community.
The difference between the nascent Krav Maga training and sport fighting was simply that Krav Maga, as it was, it was really self defense. It didn’t get called Krav Maga until the late 40s but such as it was, it was developed again, to protect the Jewish community and the key differentiator was that there were no rules in a street fight and that Imi was always out numbered and he realized right away that, again, there could be no sporting applications which we know, no rules, but most importantly, every combative or strick or counter measure had to count. There was no room for wasted motion or ineffective combatives. In other words your punch had to be a knock out if it could be, any kick had to take out a knee, a knee had to knee somebody in the groin and had to do the trick and distract and then he could move on to the next opponent.
By it’s very nature it was visual. It was meant only for self defense, not to be used offensively. Imi ended up immigrated from, or escaping the Nazi’s, in Slovakia and ended fighting for the British army in North Africa and he was willing to do it decorated. Then, he made his way to what was to become Israel and the early Israeli military leaders recognized that Imi had a distinct talent for hand to hand combat and a great way of teaching and they suggested that he ramp this up for the fledgling Israeli defense forces, which had at that point been a number of organizations including the Haganah, the Palmach, and the Pal-yam which were really self defense groups and they formed the national army which was Israel defense forces.
To this day, Krav Maga is the official hand to hand combat system. The Krav Maga that’s taught in the Israeli military does differ in different units. It’s not uniform but it is still called Krav Maga and we call it Israeli Krav Maga because it comes from the Israeli Krav Maga association. There are many different types of Krav Maga that people have put spins on but we refer to it as Israeli Krav Maga because it is the original organization with the most evolved Krav Maga.
Brett McKay: Krav Maga, that’s a Hebrew word, right?
David Kahn: Yep, means contact combat or close combat. Krav means to struggle. First used in the Old Testament … As my researching showed that Gabriel struggled, as opposed to fought, with the angel of death. It’s used elsewhere. Maga means proximity. Actually in my fourth book I had a … I’m forgetting it right now but I’ll come back to it if you’d like. It’s actually one of the original explanations behind Krav Maga about preparing ones fingers for battle and my hands for war. That’s one of the first references to the word.
Brett McKay: Oh that’s cool. You kind of hit on some of the principles of Krav Maga, so it’s make every strike count, just basic motor movement. Beyond that, are there some other principles that guide Krav Maga?
David Kahn: Yes there are. Like every good self defense it’s to recognize the recipient, conflict, or violence that’s coming to you or targeting you and to avoid it. It’s just better to see that this is not going to end up in a good situation and to extricate yourself but if push comes to shove, and we’ve got to react physically, in other words all the excalation, the deconfliction, anything you can say is not going to de congratulate the situation, Krav Maga focuses on preemptive action.
In other words, if you see that an attacker is winding up to hit you or going to deploy a weapon against from the waist band, the back, or he’s palming a weapon, we’ll preempt him. That could be any number of counter attacks but they’re meant to cause injury. Not necessarily to hurt but to cause injury to survive the situation.
Coupled with that is the all important principle of simultaneous defense and attack which simply means that every defense of measure that’s taken, a counter attack is also launched. So, if somebody were throwing a punch at your head using the preemptive self defense, you could use a straight punch because they … Straight attack will always reach the target faster than a round attack. Coincidentally takes about three times as long to land a hook punch as it does a straight punch but if you wanted to defend the straight punch with a simultaneous defense and attack principle, you would defend with the inside arm. If it’s a right punch, you defend with your left. You would block using a rotational defense to attack the attackers arms while simultaneously either punching or using a palming or a eye strike to the attackers face. So, you’re blocking and attacking at the same time in simultaneous defense and attack.
Brett McKay: Is that Retzv? R-E-T-Z-V?
David Kahn: That’s a method of counter attacking developed by Grand Master Haim Gidon, my instructor. Very proud to his student. That means continuous combat motion. Basically it’s harnessing the body’s natural movements. It’s using optimized combatives. In other words, as I land a kick to the knee or the groin my wind is already transferring forward allowing me to use that same side punch. Like a left kick punch, imagine by … Immediately by a left punch, followed by a right punch and because of my weight now coming forward with a right punch, it optimizes a right knee.
Basically, it’s harnessing the bodies momentum and it’s creating an economy emotion and it’s either recognizing an opportunity to strike a vulnerable anatomy in an aslant or creating your own opportunity by asolvo of strikes. I can put it to you this way, maybe it is the equivalent of a single shot from maybe a semi automatic rifle hitting where you need to hit and then the rifle opens up fully automatic so it’s like a single fully automatic burst of attacks if that makes sense.
Brett McKay: Yeah that does make sense. What do you think is the mind set shift that needs to take place for people to use Krav Maga effectively compared to the mind set they might have with other defensive systems?
David Kahn: Well, I think that all good systems share the mind set that we really emphasis, which is attack the attacker. That person intends to do to you harm. You’ve gotta react with extreme prejudice where the situation warrants it and I’m going to say naturalize a threat. Now, people can interpret neutralize as they wish but basically, I’m a lawyer by training so it’s very important for civilians to understand that they’ve got to use proportional force. In other words you can counter attack until that threat, that person, can no longer counter attack but if you continue to administer punishment because your anger after the fact, that’s going to come back and haunt you legally.
I’m morally proud as well. But, it’s really an aggressive mind set. It’s that, “I’m not going to lose this. It doesn’t matter what that other person knows, I’m going to take the fight to him or her because they’ve given me no choice and I’m going to end it quickly on my terms.” Again, it’s an overwhelming counter attack and again, it’s with extreme prejudice. There’s just … Again, you’ve gotta reconcile yourself that you’ve done everything you can to avoid the situation, the attack is coming your way and you’ve got to defeat it whatever it takes.
Brett McKay: You mentioned that part of Krav Maga is going forward … Inflicting damage to very vulnerable parts of the body. What are those vulnerable parts that Krav focuses on and how do you go about attacking them?
David Kahn: Yeah, the problem of targets the obvious ones, the eyes, the temple, the throat, the sides of the neck, the groin, the knees. Then, you’ve obviously got the internal organs and footing, kidney, spleen, the solar plexus, again, the mandible process, the back of the skull. It’s really wherever you can cause damage and what we mean by damage is structural damage to anatomy. Either pushing the tissue beyond it’s natural elasticity or dislocating joints or breaking bones. Even popping out an eyeball if you’ve got to do it, if it’s life or death situation by inserting your thumb and digging into the attackers eye and gouging that eyeball out. That’s, as I say, that’s visceral and thank goodness most people are verse to doing something like that. It has to be taught to most people but some people come by it naturally. Again, this is when everything else has failed and there’s no choice but to defend yourself.
Brett McKay: How do you train for gouging an eyeball out? I can see how you can train for a punch, right because you can punch a body bag. Gouging an eyeball, how do you practice for that?
David Kahn: Well, one way of course if you have a practice dummy, like a Bob but they’re rather expensive so, we can do it a couple different ways and we actually practice with a partner and we only find the eyebrow. You find the cheekbone, in other words if you have a listener trying this out in the sense mentally what you would do is you’d take your right hand, the person who’s listening, I’m doing it right now as I speak. You put it on your left cheekbone and by putting the hand on the left cheekbone, in other words you’re facing somebody else but you’re practicing on yourself, it automatically gives you a guide into the eyes. It’s called the rule of thumb, if you will.
Obviously when we practice, like everything, we’ve got to use extreme control. Which is one part of the Krav Maga training. In other words I’m at the level, my senior instructors are where we can actually kick somebody’s knee without taking it out. We’ve got the control but that has to be built up over time and that takes proper instruction. So you ask a very good question.
When I was working with one of the military branches, they were going to test with a Krav Maga worker, not, and very very tough guys and I put myself in a very bad position. I put myself in a guillotine on the ground and I said, “Okay, you can choke me out.” The friend of mine, I won’t say which branch but, the friend of mine said, “I can really choke you out.” He became my friend afterwards as a matter of fact. I said, “Sure, if I pass out I’ll pass out. If I tap out, I’ll tap out.” Again, he says, “So I can really choke you out?” I said, “Yeah, you can if you can.” But what happened was I did the defense and again, before I knew him well, he said, “Sir, my eyeball is coming out.” I said, “Well, then release.” As I’m gritting my teeth as he’s choking me and I’m releasing.
So, you can put that kind of pressure into the eye lid and people will generally relent but you got to be careful.
Brett McKay: Right. I know this probably sounds goofy. I think I read somewhere where someone would put orange slices on a Bob dummy and practice sticking their thumb in the orange slice to get used the …
David Kahn: Oh that could be.
Brett McKay: … get used to the feeling of putting their thumb in an eyeball. Oh man.
David Kahn: But, no that well could be. I mean, it’s similar to using a watermelon when you’re using edged weapons to understand how a blade is going to penetrate the human torso. It’s about the same tension of suction. Same thing with biting, when we have biting, sometimes you’ll take a piece of fruit, an orange, with the peel still on it. You’ll use your incisors, you’ll rip it out just to simulate biting if you had to, for example, bite somebody’s neck if they were choking you from the front or whatever it may be or bear hug is a better example of that. You can definitely use all sort of fruit or balloons or anything you want to simulate human anatomy.
Brett McKay: Right. It’s going to funny. There’s going to be guys sticking there thumbs in oranges and their wives are going to come in like, “What are you doing?” And, “I’m training to gouge someone’s eyeball out.” Getting back to this idea of practicing for Krav, because it’s real world and most of the situations you’re going to encounter in real world defense you are not expecting it. How do you train for an event you don’t expect? Because when you’re training you know the guy is going to attack you, so in Krav how do you train yourself to be ready for those unexpected moments where you have to defend yourself?
David Kahn: Great question. Krav Maga is built on instincts and we hone those instincts. For example, if something is unexpectedly thrown at your head or somebody were to swing at your head and you saw it coming, you would flinch. That means that your arms would come up and you’d probably tuck your chin, raising your shoulders. So, Krav Maga, to make it most effective, builds on our natural instincts.
For example, when you’re caught in what we call the negative five, which is curiosity of a good friend of mine, me and my man who headed up the training in Israel for Krav Maga. When you’re in the negative five you don’t expect it and that’s where your training tact is, your condition response has to come in. We train to do just a few things very well that will handle the mirrored attacks that you might face.
For example, the hook punch offense you’re talking about, the outside movement to block it would be the same thing into a sucker punch from your left or your right. We see something coming to the head, we flinch, we move away from it. As we deflect and then counter attack if you can.
What it distills down to is just understanding a few core movements to get you off a line of attack or to react and that has to come with training but the great thing about Krav Maga, why people seem to enjoy it so much or find it so easy to learn and retain, is again, it’s built on that flinch response or for example, if you are somebody we’re going to try to kick in the groin, another street trick. Most people, if they see it coming, will drop their hands or they’ll cross their legs. Well, we don’t want to drop the hands but we will build on that cross the leg response or deflect it with the forward leg. In other words if you were standing there and somebody went at you, you’d turn to the side. Well, we build on that by using the forward leg to deflect and turn the attacker away, take his dead side.
Brett McKay: What does a typical session look like? You can prepare yourself for these events that you’re not expecting. How do you train for he unexpected?
David Kahn: Actually it might be helpful to say one thing about the Krav Maga, that not all Krav Maga training is the same and that with our specific training, there’s really Krav Maga from Israel. We practice and train against concerted resistance. In other words, somebody who is throwing a full force attack at you because if you don’t train that way, you do yourself a disservice in three ways. One, the speed of the attack or the unexpectedness of the attack. That’s one and two. Then, the ferocity of it, the power coming at you.
You’ve got to learn how to attack the best way you can in terms of simulating it and by our combatives, we’re actually throwing very good combatives. The most effective and optimized combatives so when you can defend against those kinds of attacks when somebody is retracting the attack and very quickly to simulate a trained attacker, it’s easier to defend against somebody who’s not so trained.
We’re not spending a whole lot of time doing jumping jacks, and sit ups and push ups and fighting in the air. What we can do, for example, is we’ll have a partner stand, the hands are down in a negative five position. You’re not ready for a fight. We’ll have that partner circle around the practice partner who’s defending and throw any kind of attack. Doesn’t matter what it is and the attack, it could be a punch, it could be a kick, it could a choke, a push, a take down, anything and that’s what we call open training. Where you know something will happen but you don’t know what as opposed to choreographed training where you say, “Hey, I’m going to throw a punch at you now.” Which, of course, we build it up.
Beginners would do the closed training where they know something is coming but even within the closed training, we beginning to build it out. For example, you don’t know if they punch from the left or the right or a hook from the left or the right, so it’s a 25% proposition for each kind of attack you can get but you’ve got to react. Using good MMA gloves and control, we will go at each other full force. In fact it’s of my favorite practice drills.
In addition, we also practice from what I’ll call a deescalation stance, which I talk a bunch about in the fifth book, ‘Krav Maga Defense’. Where you’re not putting your hands up in a fighting stance because that’s going to basically indicate that you’re engaging in mutual combat, which where you loose your self defense ability to fight and you’re not ready for it.
That’s kind of my favorite kind of drill. We’ll spar as well where the hands do go up and you’re fighting but everything’s got to be done correctly in the sense that an attacker has got to come at you under control and full speed and full force and I know it’s a bit of a paradox but that’s the way we got to train.
Same thing with getting choked from the rear, we’ll walk up to somebody in a class and choke him or her if understand they know the technic and you have to react from an unprepared state because if you can react from an unprepared state, if you’re prepared obviously you’ve got the advantage.
Brett McKay: Let’s talk about kind of specific scenarios, the basic idea of Krav, you’re going to use your flinch … Your startle reflex, use basic gross motor movements to go for vulnerable parts of the body but let’s say there’s more than one attacker so, how do you … What’s your strategy whenever you have two or three attackers on you because I mean, they don’t do it like in the movies where they just all wait around while one attacker goes for you and then the next one goes. They are coming at you simultaneously.
David Kahn: No. No, you hit another great point. In fact, it’s the very essence of Krav Maga. It’s what Imi, the founder, had to face more times than not. The key is you do not fight more than one person at a time and you never get in the middle of multiple assailants, especially if there were three assailants.
In other words, let’s say that the listener is facing three people to his or her left, middle and right. Whatever happens, the defender is going to go to his her or her left or right but never down the middle. Even if the attacker in the middle comes at you. What we do is, again, we take the attack to the attacker. Again, attack the attacker and we always try to line the attackers up and that means brutalizing the closest threat, the near threat. If there’s a weapon we’ll take it away and use it against all three but you never want to fight two people at once. You always want to keep moving.
Remember, you’re the target. They’re not the target. They’re trying to envelope you and you got to work effectively. Now, interestedly one bit of trade craft here, you get the old lessons where people are out numbered and maybe it’s two against four and one says, “I’ll take those two, you take the other two.” That’s not the way we do it either. If there were two against four, the two people would still fight one person, knock him or her down, neutralize him and then continue but it’s never fighting more than one person. We’ll fight two against one four in our favor, yeah but not the other way around. We won’t defend against two.
Brett McKay: You just mentioned weapons, improvised weapons, is that an important part of Krav Maga as well?
David Kahn: Sure. Anything you can pick up can be a weapon. Changing your hand can hell at your side, it can be launched at at somebody’s face with a simulations kick to the groin or the knee. The keys are released though as slashing but the connection we use is a distraction where you are getting the guy to put his hands up, clouding his vision, then taking out his knee. Umbrellas, mobile phones, I’ve got … I’ve actually got a training curriculum for mobile phone use. You’re going to have a good insurance claim on your hand. Developed a device too for that, we’ll see how that turns out.
Anything you can pick up. A wall can be used as an improvised weapon too if you do what we call Tie Solvaki and you turn, and you channel the attackers momentum forward and you use it to ram him into the wall. Car doors, anything and everything can be used by you. Keeping in mind that it can also be used against you.
Brett McKay: The best defense, I think as all self defense systems say, the best defense is to avoid confrontation in the first place. You write a lot about this in your books. What are some of the pre conflict indicators that people should be looking out for and what can you do to avoid or deescalate these conflicts?
David Kahn: Terrific point. As all good self defense will tell you, it’s using common sense first and foremost, I would also say you couple that with your intuition. There’s a great book and I would advise all readers to pick it up if they’re interested in the topic, called ‘The Gift of Fear’ by Gavin de Becker, very well known book. Basically what Gavin de Becker is suggesting is that trust your gut. You will sense that there is a problem. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s not. Trust yourself. Forget social morals, offending someone if you’re in an elevator, that kind of thing.
Again, the different hooks that people use or different provocations, so much of what people think of as violence is avoidable and social violence. Again, made a very important point in book number five about social violence versus raw violence and social violence can be avoided. Somebody giving you a stare and hoping that you will return the stare so they can escalate with you. It could be a verbal provocation, “Hey what are you looking at?” For example. Or, something to that effect.
Again, those things that can avoided or ignored. Couple tips maybe for our listeners here. If somebody looks at you and you return the gaze, any return gaze beyond three second and emotional intent is usually indicated. In other words, if you look at somebody and then you look away, not down, and I’ll explain that momentarily but if you look away, you’re not challenging him or her. If you look down though, you break your gaze and look down it may be just what that person wanted to see because now you’ve shown that you’re subordinate in some way. You looked down. If you can look to the side and keep panning for potential threats let’s say, then you’ve interested a degree of equanimity. In other words you’re not challenging the person but you’re not backing down either.
Verbal challenges can be forgive a pun, a bit more challenging simply because it’s directed at you. It’s a direct challenge of provocation and you’ve to rehearse this ahead of time and say, “Hey, if somebody gave me a problem, hey it looks like you had a tough day. I did too.” Or, a sincere apology may be in order even though you may not have anything to apologize for if you just want to avoid it. Much of this is just posturing. It’s a form of social dominance where somebody wants to show off to either a peer, it could be a girlfriend, it could be either his or her own children or a group setting. Young males are more susceptible to it obviously.
To that point, you just have to think about what you would say to try to de conflict the situation. I had an instance where I was on a train going from New York New Jersey and for whatever reason this hard bitten guy with a tattoo on his face, tear drop in fact, took issue with me and he used the time honored, “Hey, what are you looking at?” I thought, “Ugh, here we go.” But, I said to him, rather than saying nothing, I said, “Is that your beautiful baby girl?” He looked at me a bit startled and I said, “Is that your beautiful girl?” I said, “She about 13 months?” He didn’t know what to say other than smile. The mother … He was the father. The mother was smiling from ear to ear because I talked to him about their with sincerity and I opened the trained door, or I held it for them, and rather than having an aggressor going back and forth I made a cursory friend wished them, “Have a great day,” when they left.
It changed from his wanting to start in with me to changing the subjecting sincerely and getting him off target, me.
Brett McKay: Right, I love that. Great advice there. So David, in marshal art in combative circles there’s always an enormous debate about which system is the best. I mean these things get really heated and what kinds of criticism do you think people give Krav Maga and how do you counter those criticism?
David Kahn: Again, another great question Brett. I’ll begin with the explanation that good minds think alike. For example, when I was just teaching a special forces group and when we approach these fantastic fighters and these hardened warriors and heroes in my book, the idea is just to introduce a few tactics that they might use to augment what they do. It’s not to replace what they do and that’s respect from us towards their professionalism because the fact is that only a few things out there. You’re not going to reinvent the wheel with combatives, for example, a thumb gouge to the eye, a chop to the cerated sheath, a thrush to the wind pipe, a kick to the groin. That kind of a thing.
But, what counts is how you deliver them and the method in which you deliver them. I’m not in anyway going to say that Krav Maga is the best fighting system in the world. Obviously I’m biased towards it, it’s what we do. When we talk about fighting systems you have to equate the time it takes to get proficient which is why Krav Maga is so popular because you can ramp up in a very short order versus some of the more complicated systems which are no doubt very formal fighting systems but they do take a long time to master and equally important. Not everyone may be able to do it because remember with the Krav Maga training or the evolution of it, Imi had to be able to teach 18 year old recruits along with men in their 50s who were doing their reserve duty. Which is not as old today but it’s the same thing.
It’s got to work for everybody. It’s got to work for people who are large, small, athletic, not athletic, and firm, even people with disabilities in a wheelchair and that’s where Krav Maga sort of stands out. One difference I will say and I’ll out on a limb here, is that a weapon defense is maybe, I say may, be some of the best in the world because it was developed around modern weaponry for example or a handgun disarms.
Again, it’s not a time honored system from several hundred years ago now trying to morph itself and to change the way they do things to take away an AK47. The AK47 existed and Krav Maga was developed in a way to take it away but the system does change too. For example, the weaponry in the IDF now, they’re using pull pup design sub machine guns. You don’t have a very long weapon so the Krav Maga, the combats with the weapon change as well in the tactics.
To answer your question further on comparing systems, that’s sort of like discussing religion and best not to sometimes. But, as I say, I have respect for everything. Whatever … If somebody has a very strong background in most systems and they come to Krav Maga training, the Krav Maga instructor has got to be good and legitimate. In other words, in my opinion, having trained with one of the top guys in Israel and organizations there now, obviously the top of my opinion being Grand Master Gidon.
The point is that you’ve got to be able to handle yourself in any situation, multiple opponents, and you got to be proficient in everything from weapon defenses to ground survival, to multiple opponents, to being able to roll and find what we call cover in a active shooter situation or if necessary take an active shooter down, pumble them, take the weapon away and hopefully get some help.
Brett McKay: Well David, let’s say someone is listening to this conversation and they say, “I want to get started with Krav Maga.” What’s the best way to get started?
David Kahn: The best way is to take a look … What are the local schools around you? Try it out and see if it’s a good fit. The Krav Maga that we specifically teach it takes a long time to develop instructors because we really have to master it per the original Israeli Krav Maga Association guidelines. As I said, some training is going to be better than nothing. We do have some online training which is becoming increasing popular. It’s basically … I succeeded in getting 90% of the system online and it’s about 42 hours, 350 lessons worth but that is meant to augment in person training and so if people do look at our training materials, they will see differences in what we do versus many of the Krav Maga splinter groups out there but I’m going to just compliment Krav Maga as a whole and people should go out and try it.
I would suggest that if the organization or the instructor is good at what they do, two things will happen. One, they’ll invite you in for a class as a trial and they won’t charge you and two, they won’t require you to sign a yearly contract. Which, I myself would be adverse to, because you have to, as an instructor, believe that people are going to want to come back because they love what they’re doing, you’re giving them something of great value, and they want to come back as opposed to being charged every month and having to feel they’ve got to go back if that makes sense?
Brett McKay: David, where can people learn more about your works, for example your online courses?
David Kahn: Very kind of you Brett. The website is www.masteringkravmaga.com. It’s www.masteringkravmaga.com, all one word. Our videos are very popular on Amazon. That’s the best place to get them. In fact, the first video is actually Amazon’s first pick because of the 250 ratings that have come in, it’s about a 4.85 out of 5 has designated it it’s choice for anything that’s typed in Krav Maga along with the five books that are available. Much appreciated for the opportunity to explain where to get our stuff.
Brett McKay: Well David, this has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
David Kahn: Thanks so much. I just encourage everybody to be safe and I really appreciate the interest in Israeli Krav Maga. Lastly, any questions about it generally can be answered on our website, www.israelikrav, all one word, .com.
Brett McKay: That’s israelikrav.com. My guest today was David Kahn. He is an instructor at the US Israeli Krav Maga Association. The author of several books on Krav Maga, including ‘Krav Maga Defense’, his latest. They’re all available on Amazon.com. He’s also got some DVDs which I own which are pretty cool. You can also find out more about his US Israeli Krav Maga Association by going to israelikrav.com.
Also, make sure to check out our show notes at AOM.IS/KRAVMAGA where you can find links to resources, where you can delve deeper in this topic.
Well, that wraps up another addition of The Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at ArtofManliness.com. If you enjoy this show I’d appreciate it if you’d give us a review on Itunes or Stitcher. Really help us out a lot. As always, thank you for continued support and until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.
Last updated: March 8, 2017